When it comes to box ticking Moussa Dembele would put your average market researcher in the shade this season. The Frenchman arrived in Scotland determined to score goals, play in the Champions League and further his career.
With 31 goals and garlanded displays on the continent’s biggest football stage, so successful has the 20-year-old been in the first two objectives, his team-mate Scott Sinclair believes the third will see him soon donning colours other than green and white.
It isn’t that the winger – who with 17 goals is the other member of what has become a demolition duo for Brendan Rodgers’ men – is another tipping Dembele for a £40 million switch to one of football’s glitterati. He just thinks the youngster will be returning home this month.
“He’s definitely going to be playing [for France] soon,” said the £4.5m buy from Aston Villa. “Everyone has got to look at how many goals he’s scored and how well he is doing. He is doing unbelievably. As a striker, and the confidence he’s got, he’s scoring every week. He got back-to-back hat-tricks and for him his development is unbelievable. He’s a massive player.”
It might be a stretch to believe that two goals against Inverness – to add to recent plunderings against Hamilton, the Highland side and St Johnstone for a tally of 11 goals in five games – would turn the head of French coach Didier Deschamps for the double header at the end of this month that brings a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg and a friendly with Spain.
However, more pertinent to the possibility that Sinclair is thinking along the right lines is the fact that Dembele was voted French under-21 player of the year for 2016 by the country’s influential football programme Telefoot following four goals in four games for the under-21s since his £500,000 move to Scotland from Fulham last summer.
Sinclair doesn’t pretend that he is seeing at close quarters a striker beyond any he has previously witnessed. The 27-year-old wide man was at Manchester City with Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez he helpfully points out. But in Dembele’s ability to pierce defences with poise, power and precision he can see traits that are shared by football’s most prized and lethal marksmen.
“I’d say so,” said Sinclair when asked if Dembele has similarities to Aguero and Tevez. “Moussa’s got that mentality to want to do better and better. It’s great to see. He’s learning and I’m sure he watches YouTube clips and he’s trying to learn off the best. That’s what any young striker does.”
Celtic’s quality in forward areas with the Sinclair and Dembele double act has helped prevent any Scottish opponent ending a 22-game league winning run, and a 32-game unbeaten domestic sequence. That has been underpinned by 31 victories which has allowed Celtic to enjoy a better record on the home front up to this point in the season than any team in the post-war era. The treble bid goes on the line with a Scottish Cup quarter-final at home against the Championship’s bottom club St Mirren on Sunday. The quest for perfection Sinclair embraces.
“We always deal with pressure,” said the winger, who hopes to bag 20 goals this season. “We are out here to win games all the time. The team spirit is unbelievable.”